The Rashtriya Janata Dal on Thursday won the bye-election held in the Jokihat Assembly constituency in Bihar’s Araria district. The election on Monday was seen as a key battle for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whose Janata Dal (United) had won the seat three consecutive times before this.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal’s candidate Shahnawaz Alam defeated the JD(U)’s Murshid Alam by over 41,000 votes, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer Baiju Nath Kumar said, according to PTI. Nearly 55% of the electorate had voted in the bye-election.
Shahnawaz Alam is the younger brother of the former Jokihat MLA, Sarfaraz Alam, who quit the JD(U) in March after the party allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party. His exit from the party necessitated the bye-election. Sarfaraz Alam then successfully contested a Lok Sabha bye-election from Araria constituency on an RJD ticket.
“The number of votes JD(U) got is less than our victory margin,” RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said after his party’s victory. “People of Bihar are continuing to avenge the U-turn taken by Nitish Kumar.”
Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD, along with the Congress, was a coalition partner in the JD(U)-led government until August 2017, when Nitish Kumar chose to walk out of the alliance and partner the BJP. The RJD has been at odds with the JD(U) since then, accusing Kumar of betraying voters as they had not expected the BJP to be part of the government.
“Nitish Kumar used money and might but couldn’t retain his seat,” NDTV quoted Tejashwi Yadav as claiming. “This is the victory of Laluvaad [RJD chief Lalu Yadav’s ideology] over ‘avsarvaad’ [opportunism].”